On Earth as It is in Heaven

On Earth as It is in Heaven

My son asked me today if I think Heaven is a real place. I don’t know many Christians who haven’t wondered about Heaven. What will we see and hear? How will it feel and smell to be there, in God’s holy presence, reunited with those whose homecoming preceded ours? When I think of Heaven, I don’t think of the material riches. I don’t imagine abundance. I don’t expect wealth or prosperity or any other superficial reward for my return home. When I think of Heaven, I think of love. I picture the pure bliss that results from loving and being loved. My brain can’t 100% fathom the love we’ll give and receive in Heaven because I know it will be unlike anything we’ve experienced here on Earth. Yet I also know God has allowed each of us to have a glimpse into the experiences of Heaven through the lives we live here on Earth. The Lord’s prayer speaks of God’s will being done on Earth as it is in Heaven. I’ve recited this prayer countless times in my life, but I’ve only recently started to truly consider what it means, what we can glean from those few words of verse. These are just some of my revelations about God’s will being done here on Earth, just as it was, is, and will be done in Heaven. On Earth as it is in Heaven…God’s will on Earth is for each and every one of us to be restored fully back to our Creator. God longs for us sons and daughters to be brought back, regardless of how far we’ve strayed. In Heaven, we will be home, but until that time, God desires a relationship with each of his created during our time here on Earth. On Earth as it is in Heaven….There will be no separation in Heaven. There will be no segregation in Heaven. There isn’t going to be a Baptist Heaven and a Methodist Heaven. There won’t be a black area of worship and a white area of worship. There will not be an exclusive American Heaven for American Christians. Republicans and Democrats will inhabit the same space. There will be no man-made titles of separation. All of those outward signs of racial, political, geographical, and theological differences will disappear. If God’s will in Heaven is for each of us to worship as one body of Christ, we should be working in that direction here on Earth. On Earth as it is in Heaven….There will be no patriarchy in Heaven. There will be no hierarchy of spiritual power or privilege based on gender. As image bearers of our Creator, a daughter of God will stand in the same place of honor as a son. We will enter the same gates, and we will stand before the same God. We will receive the same words of commendation, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” On Earth as it is in Heaven….There will be so special authority for men in Heaven, and I truly believe God’s will was never for there to be special authority for men here on Earth. Why would our God, omniscient, infallible, and all powerful, fully capable of doing His will on Earth just as He does in Heaven, need to place human men in a place of spiritual authority over women? Some point to the fall and Genesis, but we are not living under the curse. We’ve entered fully into a new covenant with our God, one sealed with the redemptive, freeing blood of Jesus Christ, blood shed for men and women alike. A covenant much more reflective of God’s will in Heaven. On Earth as it is in Heaven….There will be no division of roles for men and women in Heaven; therefore, there should be no division of roles for the genders here on Earth. God saw fit to allow his Holy Spirit to bestow each and every one of us with gifts while we’re here on Earth, thus why they’re called the gifts of the spirit or spiritual gifts. There are no qualifications for the gifts. There isn’t a single verse of scripture which differentiates the gifts men receive from the gifts women receive; therefore, we can understand men and women alike are gifted with any of the talents and abilities of the spirit. This includes leadership and teaching. The Bible also makes it clear each gift is equal to the other in its ability to further the kingdom of God. The body metaphor is used to demonstrate this uniformity. The head is not more important than the limbs. All must function together for the body to work...

Marching On

Marching On

While I’m not attending the marches today, I am soldiering on in support of equal rights and freedoms for all. I’m going to be honest, I felt regret at not having made a better effort to join one of the marches. I probably could have made it work. So today, as I watched the seas of pink made up of my sisters and brothers for equality, I felt a since of failure at not having worked harder to participate. Then I remembered this effort isn’t a one day or one way deal. It’s a mindset formed by a strong, passionate belief in the forward progression of equality for all American citizens. Since I’m not marching with my feet, I will march with my words. I will continue to use my voice to fight back against efforts to undo the work of the men and women who’ve gone before me, the men and women on the historical battlegrounds of religious freedom, civil rights, women’s suffrage, women’s rights, and marriage equality. I will continue to do the unpopular work of stepping away from my Christian fold when it has lost its way, when the throng of sheep march mindlessly down a path which seems lead more and more by the heart of man and less and less by the heart of Jesus. I will continue to speak out against hate of any kind. I will embrace the most important commandment and that is to love my neighbor as God has loved me. As God has loved me, an imperfect, flawed, lost, stained, undeserving sinner. When I reflect on what that type of love looks like, it looks nothing like the current platform of the White House. I will continue to place my allegiance behind leaders who view their role toward humanity with the same humility as God: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:17 I will continue to stand beside leaders who work to shine a light, not cast a shadow, who work to undo chains, not bind with old shackles. I will continue to use my words to defend attitudes which objectify half of God’s creation. I will not sit idly by and watch the admittance of sexual assault lessened to a locker room joke that was simply swept under a rug. I will continue to remind women of their role in this world. A role that doesn’t involve being a man’s servant, eye candy, or play thing. We are not the reward of a conquest, a means to an end. Daughters, you are not just something to “get with.” Sons, your goal isn’t to “bang that” or “hit that.” Rather a woman’s role includes reflecting the image of God into this dark world: “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female and he created them.” Genesis 1:27 I will continue to open the eyes of women and men to Christian feminism. We are equal creations of God. We are equal image bearers of God. We have equal and direct access to God. God lives in each of us as fully and as equitably as he does in man. We have equal freedoms in God. So to demand equality and necessitate the freedom of women in the church, home, workplace, and community is not a world view. It’s a Biblical view. Earned for us through the death and resurrection of Christ. Yes, my marching didn’t get done today with my feet, but I will not let that stop me from contributing to this monumental movement for freedom and equality for all Americans with my words. Today I marched with my words. How will you march? We all have a way to contribute; there is no insignificant effort. Find your way and march on, my friend, find your way and march on.    ...

Leaving Our Mark

Leaving Our Mark

Over the past year, I’ve become more and more aware of the brevity of life on this side of eternity. Little things have helped highlight the rapid passing of time. This summer, while walking on the beach, I confused my son’s footprints with my own. My breath caught for a moment when I realized it was the silhouette of his 9-year foot and not my own. Needing to see for myself, I called him over and placed my foot directly alongside his, and sure enough, his was the mirror image of mine. I know, I know, kids grow, it’s what they do, but the memory of my son’s newborn foot cupped in my hand was as clear and vivid to me in that moment as the movement and sound of the ocean’s waves before us. The Bible compares our lives to a mist that appears for a short time only to disappear (James 4:14). I’m an English teacher. I seek meaning from words. I love to unpack tightly wrapped packages of metaphors and similes and analogies, amazed by the depth of meaning and interpretation a few words can inspire. Our time here on Earth is like a vapor, a mist, a fog, a smoke, appearing and disappearing. But is that all there is to it? Is it that depressingly simple? Is that ultimately what our lifespans amount to, a disappearing mist? A footprint fading in the sand? When we wade a little deeper into this metaphor, there’s much more to be discovered. While mist and all of the synonyms associated with it are finite, they are not forgettable or unremarkable. Each leaves an enduring, notable impression on its surroundings. The mist from the ocean, tiny, microscopic droplets, settles on the surfaces of objects near and far, some hundreds of feet from the sea’s edge. Smoke permeates a space, filling every nook and cranny, every corner and niche, its scent clinging to any porous surface. Fog moves in silently and settles over and around roads, buildings, mountains, and valleys, moving to the forefront, temporarily dominating our view. Vapors diffuse and suspend in the air, hydrating and scenting the atmosphere with infinite aromas. Wading into the nuances of these words adds layers and layers of meaning to the impact of our lives in this present time and place. Yes, like life, each is temporary. Yes, like life, each is finite. Yes, like life, each moves on, disappearing from our conscious world. Yet each, like life, makes an unmistakable, permanent impact on its surroundings. The impact, however, is more substantial at the focal point than it is at the edges because mist, smoke, fog, and vapor all weaken and dilute at the margins. The same can be said of the mark we’re capable of leaving behind with our lives. When we overextend ourselves, pushing into the exhausting edges of being overworked, overloaded, and overbooked, the evidence of our existence becomes more scattered and less visible. When we push out into crowds of the less familiar, of acquaintances and associates and colleagues, our aroma becomes more faint as we can only manage to leave behind hints of our true selves at the perimeters. I’m moved more and more to be cognizant of the impact my brief time in this place will have on my immediate surroundings. I’m more mindful of the fringes. I’m more aware of my boundaries. I’m more stingy about where I allow my mist to fall. I no longer care to sprinkle little bits of myself here and there. Rather, I’m finding home to be the place where I want my droplets to settle. I’m more particular about where I let my fog linger. I prefer to stay in the forefront for my family and close friends, hovering over them, engulfing them with my time and attention and love. I’m more deliberate about the people with whom my scent will remain. I know it will be with the people I love and care deeply about and who love and care for me that the scent of my life will tarry forever. I avoid the ledges now. Yes, now I opt for the beach. I choose to plant my feet firmly in the sand at the water’s edge where the mist from the ocean is at its strongest. Yes, this life is like my son’s footprints in the sand. Like an early morning fog on the lake, vanishing more quickly than we’d like, but if we’re careful, the mark we leave behind can be everlasting.          ...

Don’t Shrink Back

Don’t Shrink Back

“If he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” Hebrews 10:38 I don’t think there are many 10-word phrases as powerful as this one. I don’t think there is a better verse to explain the seemingly inexplicable shifts in our society today. The most moving part of President Obama’s last press conference of his career follows and points to the very nature of the verse, the very idea of shrinking back… “This is part of what I meant when I said we’ve got to think what is happening to our political culture here. The Russians can’t change us or significantly weaken us. They are a smaller country, they are a weaker country, their economy doesn’t produce anything that anybody wants to buy except oil and gas and arms. They don’t innovate. But they can impact us if we lose track of who we are. They can impact us if we abandon our values. Mr. Putin can weaken us just like he’s trying to weaken Europe if we start buying into notions that it’s OK to intimidate the press, or lock up dissidents, or discriminate against people because of their faith or what they look like. And what I worry about — more than anything — is the degree to which because of the fierceness of the partisan battle, you start to see certain folks in the Republican Party and Republican voters suddenly finding a government and individuals who stand contrary to everything that we stand for as being OK, because that’s how much we dislike Democrats.” We can not look at the horrific images of a humanitarian crisis coming out of Aleppo and shrink back. We can not read about acts of racism and discrimination and hate against our fellow human beings and shrink back. We can not watch children bully others in the name of a presidential elected official and shrink back. We can not shrink back and overlook evidence of election tampering by another country. We can not shrink back when a cabinet leader position is offered to an individual who oversaw the largest social media platform for the alt right. We can not shrink back when a cabinet leader position is offered to an individual who toasted Putin with champagne. Believers, we can not shrink back when we are moved by the Holy Spirit to speak and to act. We can’t shrink back because we’re worried about what other believers will think of us. We can’t shrink back and hide behind an allegiance to man- made parties and titles and denominations, fearful of stepping away from the fold even when it has lost its way. We can’t shrink back, cowering behind the prideful inability to speak out against blaring discrepancies in our faith’s values because of a vote cast in November. We can’t shrink back into the comforts of tradition when traditions transform into legalism. We can’t shrink back into the marginal shadows, blinded by the spotlights of sin seekers, afraid of being caught in their glaring gaze. We can’t shrink back beneath the familiar blankets of religious  and political conformity, especially when the coverings begin to look less and less like Jesus. We can’t shrink back into archaic man-made roles within the security of our churches’ walls when the Holy Spirit is calling us out into the wilderness places. We can’t shrink back into the shackles and bondage of legalism when the Holy Spirit calls for us to be free. Don’t shrink back! Step out in faith to where the Holy Spirit is leading. Be transformed and renewed in seeking after the things of Jesus, not the things of the...

Eyes Wide Open

Eyes Wide Open

On the eve of Election Day 2016, I’m in awe of the realization we may have our very first female president of the United States. My eyes are wide open to what this means for girls and women today and for generations to come. And while I realize a win is not assured and results are over 24 hours away, my eyes are wide open to what this moment means for our country. My eyes are wide open to a movement hundreds of years in the making. I see the timeless work of trailblazers like Margaret Fuller, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Carrie Chapman Catt, Sojourner Truth, and Susan B. Anthony coming to fruition. I watch as the marginalized make their way to their rightful places at the political tables from which they were once denied a place to sit. Little girls can’t be what they can’t see, and I behold little girls’ dreams expanding to include the new aspiration of being our country’s president. My eyes are wide open to the cross-gender support for our first female presidential candidate. My gaze falls upon men of every age, race, religion, and sexual orientation, working diligently alongside women to make this moment in history a reality. I imagine old doors closing as a woman is openly embraced and entrusted with this position of leadership. I see doors slamming in the faces of inequality, misogyny, and patriarchy. I envision the gag of fear and intimidation being ripped from women’s mouths as they find strength in their own voices, allowing their whispers to become roars. I recognize newfound pride as heads rise up and shoulders straighten, the emboldened steps of women leaving their marks in the sand of time. I discern a renewed hope in humanity as glass ceilings are shattered and the sky literally becomes the limit for our daughters. Regardless of tomorrow’s outcome, my eyes and the eyes of women young and old have been opened. We see the page turning, the pen is to paper, as perhaps, just perhaps, a new chapter in American history is about to be written....

Pro-Life Not Pro-Trump

Are you pro-life but anti-Trump? This article will hit home with anyone who is against Donald Trump but who is also pro-life. Aligning oneself strictly with a party who attaches itself to a prolife platform doesn’t necessarily mean that party follows through on their stance, as the statistics in the article prove. The CDC shows abortion rates to be at their lowest since 1973 under Obama. Rates have dropped every year under his presidency, while historic highs occured during back to back Republican presidencies. Voting Republican does not guarantee the protection of the unborn. As a voice for the voiceless, prolifers need to go beyond the ballot box to the research which shows what effectively reduces abortion rates among women. We also need to hold the people accountable who run on the platform but have no follow-through once in office. Please take a moment to read this article. NC is a battleground state, and the author, a NC resident, makes some very important points....

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